Emotions are the Language of the Soul

There is an illustration of a train, which anyone who grew up in western evangelical society has probably heard more than once. That train has obedience as the engine, facts as the middle car, and emotions as the caboose. This tells us that we are simply to obey. Our obedience is backed up by facts, and then feelings, the caboose, will magically follow. At least, that’s what I always thought. The only problem was that the feelings never seemed to follow. My life consisted of two cars…..the engine of obedience and the caboose of facts. There was no room in my life for emotions. I prided myself on being an intellectual, a philosopher, an apologist. I didn’t need emotions.  Emotions were not to be trusted. They were fleeting, irrational, and would lead me astray. Besides, if I really were to pay attention to my emotions, I wasn’t sure that I would be able to handle it.

Through a series of events, a perfect storm so to speak, Jesus forced me to acknowledge a part of my being that had long been neglected- my feelings. In the face of pain so deep I could not ignore it, I came to realize that feelings are not just a nuisance to be stuffed and ignored, but an integral part of what it means to be human. I realized that I was made in the image of a personal and emotional God, and that this very personal God wanted to know me. But how could I open up my heart and emotions to God, when I didn’t even know how to look at them myself?

Emotions are the language of the soul. With them, we connect to ourselves, and to God. Emotions have been given a rather negative connotation in Western Society. We hear that word, and we immediately think of verses such as Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick, who can understand it?” And we do not apply the context of the rest of the Word such as the Lord’s answer to Hagar’s desperate emotions in the desert, David’s deeply emotional cries to the Lord in the Psalms, or Jesus himself as He wept and cried out to the Father. We take verses such as Jeremiah 17:9 out of context of the rest of the Bible and wrongly conclude that our emotions are not important to God.

The fact is, Western Christianity has done a very poor job of communicating the importance of emotions. While it is true that we are not to be led around by our emotions, being tossed about by them as a rickety raft by the waves of the sea, we are also not to ignore them. They are not to lead us, but we are to acknowledge them and care for them. We are to present them to God in order to hear from Him. Our emotions are an essential part of our communication to the God of the universe. He did not create us with emotions by mistake. Emotions were not a part of the curse at the fall. Rather, emotions were present from the beginning, and they were good, and they were a means of communication and connection to God. But somehow, in Western Christianity, we have made emotions themselves out to be the enemy, especially negative emotions. In doing so, we deny ourselves a vital part of the human experience. And not only that, but we leave ourselves hollow and empty. When we ignore our feelings, we are left with nothing more than what we can do or produce. It is this very type of performance oriented life that Jesus condemned in the Pharisees. When we have no value for ourselves in Christ apart from what we can do for Him, we become harsh and critical toward ourselves, judging ourselves based on our performance. When we treat ourselves that way, we will always treat others that way as well. Thus, not taking care of our emotional needs leaves us empty, hollow, and often harsh human beings. I believe this has greatly contributed to the negative perception of Western Evangelicals. We are guilty of being a “get things done” group of people, thinking that things like emotions and feelings merely get in the way of getting God’s work done. When in reality, God wants to use our feelings and emotions to draw us closer to Him, to move us out of our brains only and into our hearts with Him. He wants to connect with us emotionally, in a way that is so dynamite that everyone around us sees our love for God and others. People feel love in our presence when we are connected to God this way.

It is possible, then, to devote our entire lives to God’s work, and to completely miss God Himself. All the while, turning people away from the gospel with our harsh and critical natures which will eventually become too difficult to hide.

When we pay attention to our feelings, not being tossed about by them, but bringing them before God in communication with Him, we will experience revolutionary change, heartfelt love for Jesus and others, and a sense of wholeness in Him that cannot be shaken.

It is a time for a revival in Western Christianity. We need to be shaken out of our performance oriented religion and into emotionally charged, heartfelt communication with God as He intended when He created us as emotional beings. We need to do away with the negative connotations that being emotional makes us less rational or trustworthy, and accept the truth that being emotional is a vital part of the human experience, and a vital part of our connection with God.

End Note Citation: These themes and ideas were planted in my heart by Peter and Geri Scazzero and their Emotionally Healthy Spirituality ministry.

10 Warning Signs of Approval Addiction

  1. Your heart sinks when you have to say “no” to something that someone has asked you to do.
  2. You often feel trapped, in a kind of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” circumstance. Whatever choice you make, you feel guilty.
  3. You are more aware of what other people want than what you want.
  4. You will make your day much harder (often at the expense of those closest to you such as your kids and husband) in order to make someone else’s day a little easier. You draw on the help of those closest to you so that you may go far out of your way to help people you barely know. You tell people your service is “really no problem”, when really you went way out of your way, disrupted your whole day, and even had to call in reinforcement to help cover for you.
  5. When you do an act of service for someone and they seem less than grateful, you either flat-line emotionally or blow up aggressively.
  6. You do a lot of negative or even hateful self talk when you feel you have failed to live up to someone else’s expectation of you.
  7. You lie awake at night obsessing over things you said that may have hurt someone’s feelings, came across wrong, or sounded stupid.
  8. You would not dare say “no” to your boss, even if you dread the extra workload he or she has asked of you.
  9. You are not really sure what you enjoy doing.
  10. You care a lot more about what others think about you than what God thinks about you.

Approval Addiction

I am an approval addict in recovery.

Sometimes, the most difficult addictions to identify are the ones that do not come in the form of pills or needles.

I lived most of my Christian life as an approval addict. I didn’t realize it until it was almost too late.

As an approval addict, my whole sense of worth as a person came from my husband, my church leaders (one of whom is my dad), and a few other key people in my life. My addiction was no fault of theirs.

I spent my evenings devoted to discipleship and outreach. Any spare moment was spent trying to keep up on the house or get the laundry caught up on. I was running myself into the ground, and all for the approval of people.

As our family grew, I was becoming more and more and more tired. I was growing more and more frustrated. I was unable to keep up with the demands that I placed on myself and the demands that I felt others had placed on me.

As my demands grew, my stamina diminished. I would often let people down, and then beat myself up about it. I would forget an important meeting or fail to get the house in order.

The more I tried, the more tired I became and the more tired I became, the more I fell short. The more I fell short, the more I hated myself. The more I hated myself, the more tired I became.

This went on in an absolutely viscous cycle that left me disoriented, unsure of who I really was, and far away from the love that God intended me to experience in Him.

One fateful night, it all came to a screeching halt. My thought life had become so dark, that I was genuinely convinced that everyone would have been better off without me, even my small children. I would not have attempted to end my own life, but I remember calling out to God,

“God, why am I even still here? What good am I doing? Why can’t you just take me home to be with You? I can’t understand why I’m here. I don’t want to be here anymore.” 

I meant it from the darkest depths of my soul.

It was in that moment that I realized that there was something very very wrong with. I realized I needed help. My life was not working for me anymore, and finally the fear of living the rest of my life that way became deeper than my fear of what people would think of me.

Looking back, the night that I realized I desperately needed help was the turning point. The worst night of my life turned into one of the best things that ever happened to me, because out of that darkness, I finally realized that I was not okay.

I began to see a Christian therapist. When I walked into the office for my first visit, I had no idea that those once a week visits would help me to completely turn my life around.

My therapist helped me to identify things about myself that had long been buried under the demands of others and my desperate need for their approval.

They say the biggest step toward recovery is to admit that you have a problem. That was true for me. As soon as I admitted that there was something desperately wrong with me, I took the steps necessary to get help, admit that I had an approval addiction, and start healing.

I began to truly believe in my heart that Jesus already approves of me and that nothing I do or fail to do will change His love for me. I began to enjoy life again. I felt that I had the freedom to say, “no” when people asked something of me. I felt that I had a right to enjoy the things that God placed within me for me to enjoy. I started writing again. I started running again. I started getting out into nature again. And most importantly, during all of these activities, I began to practice the presence of God. No longer did I feel like I had to meet every single need that crossed my path. No longer did I feel a sense of guilt whenever I was not helping someone, sharing the gospel, or engaged in a church event. I began to experience God in every little beautiful detail of life. I began to experience the joy of His presence in my children’s laughter, the sunrise, the smell of rain after a hot spell, the feeling you get in your lungs after a long hard run. I felt Him everywhere and in everything. I never could have regained that sense of myself and that sense of Him if I had not first admitted my approval addiction and sought recovery.

It was not as easy as I make it sound. It seems easier now that I have been practicing my new way of thinking for so long. But at first, it was an uphill battle. My brain was already trained to seek the approval of others. Getting their approval was like a drug. It felt good. I felt I needed it to survive, to feel a sense of purpose. Saying “no” or letting someone down felt bad at first. I felt like a failure. I felt like I was letting everyone in my life down. I felt ungrateful and sometimes even selfish.

But the real act of selfishness had always been my relentless pursuit of approval from people. You see, I was never really doing any of it for them. It was all for me. I wanted them to make me feel like I was worthwhile. I loved the feeling of martyrdom that I got from making a huge self sacrifice in order to serve someone else.

Saying “no” and making time for “self” was really just putting a stop to my drug of choice. I had to stop getting approval in order to really cleanse my mind of this addiction. I knew that at some point in my life, I would go back to serving and helping people as Christ called me to do. But I also knew that during this cleanse, I had to take time away. A sabbatical if you will. An extended Sabbath. I had to stop putting that drug into my system long enough to re-train my brain not to seek the approval of others but to bask in the approval of God, which was unconditional.

So I took an extended period of time in which I did not do much for anyone. I said “no” more often than I said “yes”. With the help of my therapist, I learned to recognize the warning signs of slipping into my approval addiction. When I noticed those signs, I prayed through my emotions to uncover the truth. I did this multiple times a day. At first, it was really difficult. Every part of me cried out for approval from my husband, my extended family, even my kids. It felt like death to deny myself of seeking their approval. But what resurrected out of that death was more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.

I never imagined that life could feel this good. Even in the tough times, God is there, an everlasting source of peace and the only approval I will ever need.

I have been able to move back into serving again, but it comes from a totally different motive. I noticed that other people’s ungratefulness no longer has an effect on me. When I serve now, it is because I genuinely believe that it is an act of service to God, and something that He has specifically placed on my heart to do. So I am able to do that act of service out of a genuine love for God, and it matters nothing whether anyone else notices or not.

More importantly, however, I do not feel that I need to meet every need that I am made aware of. I do not feel that I need to do everything that everyone else asks of me. My heart does not sink when I decline. Instead, it soars, knowing that I now have the power and the right to decline, and God’s love for me does not change one bit when I do so.

An excellent source for further reading on this subject is The Emotionally Healthy Woman by Geri Scazzero.

 

The Ugly Truth

It just kind of came to me one day, this ugly truth, after months of intensive emotional healing through therapy, transformation prayer, reading Emotionally Healthy Spirituality or EHS (Peter Scazzero). It was a long time coming, but it also seemed to come over me all at once in a single moment of revelation. I am a co-dependent person, attracted to controlling, emotionally manipulative, needy people. They fill my need to be savior, and I fill their need to be agreed with, praised, and approved of. I flinch even as I type it. Is it so bad? Am I quite so bad as to really think that I could play the role of savior? For the majority of my Christian life, that is how I lived. Now, I never in a million years would have termed myself savior, but the ugly truth was that I was in fact living that way. My heart was invested in my important relationships as the savior. I enabled, never challenged. I sought to keep the peace. I tip-toed around issues, trying to think of the response desired so that I might not disrupt the false peace that I had created all around me. Meanwhile, there was no peace inside.

I first realized that boundaries must be put in place in order for me to heal. I am not playing a victim card here. Co-dependency is a sickness in itself, and it is no better or worse than control and abuse. My greatest sin, and the one that colored every aspect of my life, nearly every relationship I had, was undoubtedly Co-dependency. In order to heal, there first needed to be a separation. Someone once told me that trying to heal a relationship while you’re still in it is like trying to fix a car while you’re flying down the highway. The truth of this statement has stuck with me. In order to heal myself and turn from my own sin of co-dependency and enabling behaviors, I had to first take a break from the relationships in which I was making a practice of this sin.

During the break, it was time to heal my mind…to go back in order to go forward. I had to stop denying the impact of the past on the present (another phrase taken from Scazzero’s EHS series). The impact of the past on the present is strong, whether or not I am conscious of it. I had to explore the roots of my co-dependent feelings and behaviors.

Having come to the place in my healing journey where I could understand the roots of my behavior and the lies that I was believing about myself, God, and others, it was time to begin to form new patterns of thought and behavior. This was the most grueling part of the journey. I was deeply embedded in the sin of co-dependency, hateful self-talk, and gaining a sense of worth from others. These patterns were not easy to break, and even today I can find myself easily slipping back into this destructive and sinful thought life.

I taught myself to recognize the warning signs of spiraling into these patterns. Once I could recognize the warning signs, I could make a conscious effort to combat the lies with God’s truth. No, that is not true. You are not stupid and worthless. You are cherished. You are loved. You are adored. God doesn’t make garbage. He has a plan for you. You are his precious daughter. He is captivated by you. He has forgiven you and sees you as perfect and holy, covered by the blood of Jesus. 

At times, I chanted these truths to myself over and over. At times, I cried out to the Lord telling Him what I believed about myself and asking Him to speak truth to me. At times, I listened to a few key songs over and over until I began not only to know about God’s love for me in my head, but to feel it deep within my soul. More often, I listened to or read the Psalms throughout the day, over and over. In a few months, I read through all of the Psalms a number of times. They were like my life support in these days that felt like the valley of the shadow of death.

After a significant amount of time healing, some of my former relationships were able to be restored. Others were not. It really depended on the person’s response to my newfound ways of relating with people. My relationships with other people now flowed from a new confidence in Jesus. I did not need the approval of others any longer. I did not feel a need to preserve false peace. I did not feel like I had to tip toe around people, say the right thing, and keep people happy. That kind of enabling behavior was behind me, and I was working to make sure it stayed that way.

Some would respond well, adapting to the challenges of the new me, realizing that I was no longer simply a “yes-woman” but an empowered woman, a woman with her own mind who was confident enough to speak her true feelings in kindness and compassion.

One of the most important parts of this journey was the process of giving myself grace for mistakes. I did not go about this process perfectly. Looking back, I can think of so many things I would have done differently. I would have been more gracious with the people from whom I needed to take a break to heal. I would have communicated differently. At times, it was difficult not to slip back into self-hate because of these mistakes.

The healing process was pretty rocky as well. I did at times fall back into old patterns of co-dependency and self-loathing. I did at times seek approval from others. It would have been easy to get into an even deeper rut when I slipped back into my old patterns, telling myself that I would never succeed at changing.  But I knew that I was not going to change overnight, so over and over, day after day I fell on my face before the Lord and asked Him to change me, to speak to me, to remind me of my identity in Him. Day after day, I immersed myself in the Psalms, songs, and prayer.

Forgiving self was the key component to successfully allowing God to heal and change me. Some Christians hear about therapy and inner healing, they immediately think that it is wrong or irrelevant because it is all about “self love” and that is clearly not biblical. But I challenged that view in my own heart. Self love is not the same thing as selfishness. And it is in no way exclusive from loving God and others. In fact, the way that I understand self love, is actually just allowing yourself to recognize and be aware of the presence of God.

I fondly remember my grandpa telling me to “practice the presence of God”, but I never really understood it until now. To practice the presence of God is self love, or rather recognizing God’s love for you on a regular basis. Throughout the day, in the still moments, I remember that He is right there with me, that He cares for me, and that I am His.

Scazzero suggests that people who are hateful, critical, harsh, and judgmental to themselves will unwittingly be so to others. To love and forgive yourself is not selfish, because love and forgiveness for others will flow from that. To recognize God’s love for you and His forgiveness of you and to make an effort to stop the hateful self talk and self criticism is, inadvertently, to love others. Because ultimately, you will treat others the same way you treat yourself.

These changes felt so very slow, but looking back I honestly can’t believe how quickly God changed me. Nothing is quite so difficult to change as the mind and soul. It is quite easy to move locations, to end relationships and begin new ones, but it is not so easy to change your mind. And wherever you go, your mind will be there.

To free your mind through healing in Jesus is the only real way to be liberated, free, and whole. I use to long to escape from myself. But Jesus gave me something better. He gave me healing so that I could forgive myself, recognize His love for me, and experience true freedom and joy.

I understand that not every day will be pure joy and wholeness and happiness. There will be days where I am tempted to slip back into self-loathing, and there will be days where I succumb to temptation. There will be days where I behave in co-dependent and enabling ways. There will be days where I seek approval from others. There will be days where I skirt issues to preserve false peace. I know that I will not do this perfectly, but now that I have the power of forgiveness buried in my heart, I can get through these days and move on toward a brighter and more hopeful future in Jesus.

So, yes, the ugly truth is that in the flesh, I am a co-dependent and enabling person. But the beautiful truth is that in Jesus, I am forgiven and cherished, confident in my identity as a daughter of the King.

 

Money Matters: Our Story

My husband and I have been on the Dave Ramsey plan since we married almost eight years ago. We took the Financial Peace University course through our church. We were engaged at the time. We were excited to get married. We were not too concerned about finances. Love is all that matters, right? But we took the course at the urging of our pastors (one of whom is my dad). Looking back, I cannot imagine where we would be right now had we not been actively working through the steps.

I graduated from a private college, so my debt was considerable. Our first year of marriage, we lived in a small apartment and we both worked. I was working as a teacher and he was making caskets. We didn’t make much, but we managed to live off of his paycheck alone. Every penny I made that year went toward my student loans. We had them more than half paid off by the time we found out we were expecting.

I knew that I wanted to be a stay at home mom. That was the whole reason we were intent upon living off of my husband’s paycheck.

At this time, the housing market was about as low as it was going to get. It was a buyer’s market to be sure. We bought a spacious home for under 100k. It needed a little work, but was definitely livable. It was not the best area of town, but it wasn’t the worst, either.

We moved in and had three children, one right after another. We had to slow down on the amount of money that was going toward my student loan debt each month. But we were still working the Ramsey Steps. We were still paying higher than minimum. We were still living off as little as we could.

My husband was given an opportunity to move from woodworking to car sales. We followed God’s lead, and we were blessed to find ourselves with a little more income. I continued to substitute teach one day per week and continued to put all of that money toward my student loans.

We still shopped Aldi and second hand. We rarely ate out, except for the occasional date night. We were happy. We knew we were working toward financial freedom, and we did not feel that we were missing out.

Around this time, we managed to get my student loans completely paid off. At this point, we had only the house and one of our cars to pay off. We do not recommend getting into a car payment by any means. Ramsey would not be happy with us for doing so. But in our case, it had to do with my husband’s job and the fact that we were given an opportunity for him to drive what he sells for far below fair market value. But that is besides the point. We were ready to pay it off. We had a substantial emergency fund. We had very little debt.

Then, came the bad news. We found out that our children’s lead levels were higher than what they would have liked to see. It was not an immediate emergency, but it was not good either.

We applied for the city lead program. After months and months of waiting, they finally came to do the inspection. A few weeks later, we found out that they rejected our home. It was more expensive than what they were allowed to spend per unit. So we were on our own.

This was a major setback, but because of the Ramsey plan, it was not altogether devastating. We have to get all new windows. Because of the age of our home and the size of the windows, it is particularly expensive. It will use up our entire emergency fund. But you know what? That’s what it is there for. It’s an emergency fund for times like these. And if it hadn’t been for doing the Ramsey plan, we probably wouldn’t have had an emergency fund. This would have been more than a setback. It would have been devastating. We would have had to refinance, take out a huge personal loan, or sell the house at a huge loss.

I hear a lot of people in my generation complaining about not being able to make a living wage. And while I sympathize and understand the frustration that finances bring, I also cannot help but notice that the same people who say they cannot make a living wage are also driving new cars, have the latest smartphone, by new clothes, and go to the coffee house daily. The people claiming they cannot make a living wage are often the same people paying $17 for a kale and egg sandwich and a mocha nearly every morning of the week. Financial stability has a lot more to do with your money choices than your income. You could make six figures and still barely be making ends meet if you insist on having the newest and the best of everything, taking on the highest payments you are approved for, and living in a home you can barely make the mortgage on. There is a better way to live.

Financial stability comes with education and self control, not a bigger paycheck.

I hope our story will encourage you that making smart money choices will be life-changing for you. Even if you run into a major setback like we have, setting yourself up for financial freedom will allow you to live free, not enslaved by your things and your debt. It will allow you to give to the cause of furthering the gospel. It will allow you to bless future generations.

It only takes a few months to form a habit. Once you get used to cooking at home instead of eating out, finding great second-hand deals on clothes, and paying off debts aggressively, you will find that you don’t so much miss your old lifestyle. You will find that those things were never making you happy in the first place. The freedom that comes from working the Ramsey steps is totally worth the self denial it will take to do it.

So let this encourage you that your financial success is, at least somewhat, in your control. You can make smart choices now. You can set yourself up to be financially free.

Why wait? You can’t control what comes at you in life, but you can apply godly principles to your money management.

Ecclesiastes 5:10-  Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.

Romans 13:8-  Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

 

 

Faithful are the Wounds of a Friend

Let’s talk about reproof. Yeah, I know, not a very popular topic, but it merits discussion as the Word of God talks about it. I will attempt to answer some common questions about why it is important that a church actively practices biblical reproof.

When should I reprove someone?

Go for restoration, not revenge.

When someone has wronged you, and your heart is right toward that person, reproof is the next step. How do you know if your heart is right in reproving someone? Ask yourself, “Do I want to speak to this person for a sense of revenge and justice? Or do I genuinely care about this individual and want to see her free from entrapment in this particular sin?” If you can honestly answer with the latter, then the next right thing is to go to that person in love. If you attempt to reprove someone out of anger or a need for revenge or the desire to put that person in her place, it is likely to go really really poorly, leaving more hurt feelings and bitterness than before. The goal of reproof should always be restoration and never revenge.

What if that Person does not Respond Well? 

If you have already spent time praying for this person, and you are certain that your motivation in talking to this person is coming out of a love for God and for them as well as a desire to see them grow, change, and benefit, then you have no business worrying about how they will respond. How you reprove someone is your deal. How someone responds to it is their deal. The only time that there is an exception to this general principle is when someone has a stacked history of blowing up in response to loving rebuke. In such cases, perhaps it is better simply to pray for that person. I’m not claiming to be an authority on this. This is just my thought. If you find yourself wronged by someone and with a heart that genuinely has that person’s best interest at heart, but that person has a history of blowing up in the face of loving reproof, I might consider talking to a pastor or elder before you make a decision about what you are going to do.

What if someone reproves me, but I really don’t think I did anything wrong?

This can happen. Perhaps you did something wrong, perhaps you did not. But either way, this person is coming to you saying that you have offended or sinned. The first thing to do is to remain calm. Give the person coming to you the benefit of the doubt. Assume that they are coming to you out of love and genuine concern for your well-being. Then ask yourself, “Is there any morsel of truth to what they are saying?” If there is, acknowledge it and commit to bring that area of your life before Jesus. If you believe that what you have done was the right choice, at least commit to praying about it and asking God to search your heart. Always thank the person for being concerned for your well-being and for your spiritual life and growth. Even if this person came to you with an angry and vengeful heart, they will likely be taken aback by your humble response, and you will have helped move the relationship toward restoration.

Lack of Reproof leads to Gossip

Gossip usually doesn’t happen because someone wakes up one day and decides they are going to slander someone and turn people against them for no reason. Gossip usually happens because someone has felt hurt, maybe even violated. It happens because people want to feel validated. They want someone to hear their side of the story and to sympathize with them. It is rarely as malicious as you might think. Gossip usually comes from hurting hearts- hurting hearts that have not been restored to the person who hurt them. When someone is hurt and prays to God for help in forgiveness, makes his heart right toward the person who hurt him, and goes to the person in love, gossip has no chance. It is stamped out before it even begins. A church free of gossip is a beautiful thing. But even when gossip does happen, you can still apply all of these same principles of reproof and go to that person. Otherwise, you will end up gossiping about someone who was gossiping. A bit hypocritical, wouldn’t you say?

I don’t like confrontation. Why should I bother?

Because if you don’t, Bitterness has opportunity to rule in your heart.

Without active reproof, churches will fall apart as bitterness festers in hearts. Members will come and go, but few will remain and see the fruit that comes from lasting relationships. When people wrong us, we have a few choices. We can try to forget about it and act like it never happened. But even if we forgive the person who hurt us, we will not have the opportunity for a deeper relationship with them, and all of our friendships will remain surface level.

We can let it fester and grow bitter. Now, this is obviously not the right choice, but unfortunately it is the one many people choose because it just sort of feels good to hang on to that resentment. Too often,  people intend to forgive and move on, but they never actually forgive. As much as they intended to forgive….as much as they wanted to forgive….when they hear that person’s name, they cringe. When they see that person in the lobby at church, they look the other way. A person who leaves enough bitterness to fester in his soul will, when once enough people in the church have wronged him, eventually leave and start the whole process over at a new church, thinking there will be better people there when the truth is, the problem was in his heart all along. The only real solution to deal with someone who has wronged you is reproof. Reproof, when done in a biblical manner, restores and deepens relationships, builds trust, and keeps a church  functioning together for the long hall.

“Faithful are the Wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Proverbs 27:6

 

 

Dear Single Sisters,

This is not going to be the obligatory Christian blog post about your singleness and how they are the best years of your life and you should cherish them blah blah blah.

I know. You have a biological clock that’s a tickn and you are going to throat punch the next person who tells you to live it up now because you won’t be able to when you have a husband and kids blah blah blah.

I’m going to give you some advice that may, ironically, expedite the process. Or it may not. Only God knows. But this advice, if taken, will make you more attractive and more prepared for marriage. And, if you choose to remain single, you will still find joy and satisfaction if you do this.

Here it is:

Convince yourself that marriage is not going to make you happy. I am dead serious about this. You must know this. When you know it, you will be more ready for marriage than ever before. Do you know how many women dream of marriage, but never think a day beyond? It’s like they think life is a Disney fairy-tale that ends after the wedding day. We are products of our culture, I tell you. The day after your wedding will come, and it will not be happily ever after. No matter who you marry, there will be hard days. There will be lonely days. There will be difficult times. There will also be good times. But if you go into marriage expecting that it will be the source of your happiness, you will destroy it. Marriage was not meant to make you happy. It was designed by God to sanctify you. Joy may very well be a byproduct of sanctification, but there will be little to no joy if you expect your spouse to be the source of your happiness. It will drain him. No one can do that for you but Jesus. Jesus can do that for you now. You don’t have to wait to be married to be happy.

When you are deriving your joy from Jesus, you will become one of the most attractive people around. People will long to be around you. Why? Because you are filled with the Holy Spirit. You are filled with confidence that you are loved and cared for by the Creator of the Universe. You know that you don’t need to snag a husband to be happy. You know that being single does not mean you are undesirable or unloved. You are happy and confident now, and that makes you irresistible.

And when someone falls in love with this beautiful, confident, joyful woman, he will have the luxury of being your husband without the pressure of being your source of joy. When our emotions are dependent on what our husbands say or don’t say, we drain them of life and leave them feeling like failures. Because let’s face it, the greatest man on earth will never be able to meet our need for attention and validation. Only Jesus can do that. So if you let Jesus do that for you now instead of thinking you need a man to do that for you, you will not only become a more attractive person, but you will have a mindset that is ready for marriage. You will be ready for a marriage where you are filling up on the Holy Spirit and pouring out into your spouse rather than trying to fill up on your spouse, who will never be able to do that job like Jesus can.

So whether you meet your future spouse tomorrow, ten years from now, or whether you remain single, you can be full of joy if you start really believing that marriage will never be the source of your happiness and that a man will never be able to give you the kind of validation that you will find in Jesus.